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Expert Opinions

NPR: the Voices and Views of One Side

by HELEN REDMOND

NPR

National Public Radio.

National Pay or Play Radio.

Spring Pledge Drive, 2012.

Hosts beg and cajole on air hour after hour, day after day for money.

They creatively and with cool music in the background alternately shame and praise listeners to pony up part of the paycheck.

And promise membership cards, mugs, and messenger bags in return.

NPR is your radio station.

Send money; get “unbiased” reporting.

Send money; hear the views “of all sides.”

According to Gabriel Spitzer.

And Melba Lara.

And Scott Simon. Host of Weekend Edition. Saturday.

Simon supported the war in Afghanistan.

Simon: “It seems to me that in confronting the forces that attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, American pacifists have no sane alternative now but to support the war. I don’t consider this reprisal or revenge, but self-defense: protecting the world from further attacks by destroying those who would launch them.”

Simon says. Sir, yes, sir.

Simon’s salary: $300,648.

Biased.

Steve Inskeep. “My job is to bring an unvarnished view of what’s happening around the world every day…”

The tone of Inskeep’s voice changes when he interviews Palestinians, Pakistanis, and Iranians vs. Israelis, Saudi’s, CEOs, and US government officials.

Hostile, disbelieving, aggressive for the former.

Cordial, obsequious, passive for the latter.

Inskeep’s salary: $331,241.

Biased.

I admit I listen and I don’t pay.

Because NPR doesn’t air the views of all sides.

All things are not considered.

The so-called “experts” NPR interviews are pro-government, pro-war, and promote the ideas of right-wing think tanks. A faction of former national security advisors, defense department officials, ambassadors, ex-pentagon generals, and military commanders.

Inside the DC beltway.

The government to K-street, to think tank, to NPR pipeline.

Those are the opinions and views heard in the vast majority of stories.

I know because after stories air, I google the website the expert represents.

The websites use words like: nonpartisan, principled, independent, strong, pragmatic, quality, benchmarking, innovative, strategic, impact.

Distinguished, deep thinkers thinking about good governance, rule of law, nuclear proliferation, counterterrorism, cybersecurity, 21st century defense, metrics, kinetics, energy security, failed states, nation building, geoeconomics, transparency, emerging markets, saving behavior, managing global order.

Like the Brookings Institution.

An NPR story titled: Technological Innovations Help Dictators See All.

Weekend Edition host Rachel Martin. Sunday. She interviewed an expert.

John Villasenor. Senior Fellow.

Brookings Institution.

Martin asks: “Give us some real-world examples. How could this play out in a country like Syria?”

Villasenor: “Well, in countries like Syria, there’s no reason to expect that governments won’t take advantage of every possible technological tool at their disposal to monitor their citizenry. Smartphones, and the apps that run on smartphones, very often track location in an authoritarian country.”

C’mon Rachel! Syria?

How many Syrians do you think own Smartphones?

How many Americans do you think own Smartphones?

The American surveillance state intercepts and stores 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications every day!

Why not talk about that?

They didn’t talk about that.

An NPR story titled: As Drones Evolve, More Countries Want Their Own.

Talk of the Nation host Neal Conan interviewed an expert.

John Villasenor.

The Brookings Institution Senior Fellow:

“And so, you know, unfortunately we have a long history of machines essentially engaging in killing, and so I think when people are designing – figuring out how to use drones, we have to keep in mind that, you know, there’s already been a precedent of these things and try to improve upon that.”

You lost me. Precedent? Improve on what?

Villasenor didn’t mention that American drones have killed hundreds of civilians in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Conan doesn’t ask.

For experts like Villasenor, civilian deaths are unfortunate but inevitable collateral damage in the war on terror.

I think they’re crimes against humanity.

Drone attacks are remote control terrorism.

That is my opinion.

But I’m no expert.

And NPR doesn’t want to hear my side.

Council on Foreign Relations.

An NPR story titled: Obama sends 30,000 More Troops to Afghanistan.

All Things Considered host Michele Norris interviewed an expert.

Max Boot is the “Jeane  J. Kirkpatrick” Senior Fellow for

National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Norris: “…based on what you heard tonight, do you think the president went far enough?”

Boot: “I mean, the parts that I really liked and I thought were terrific were when he talked about that we have a vital national interest in Afghanistan. We have to be there to prevent a cancer from, once again, spreading throughout that country.”

The US military counterinsurgency won’t let cancer metastasize in Afghanistan.

But the troops can’t save everyone. Millions of Afghans are at the end stage.

Of the “Great Game.”

There is no morphine to kill the pain.

An article by Max Boot on the recent clashes in Afghanistan over the burning of Qurans.

Title: Afghans Don’t Hate Americans.

The Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow:

“Many Americans seem to be saying that if the Afghan people don’t want us there, why should we stay? That’s dubious logic because we are not in Afghanistan as a favor to the Afghan people. We are there to protect our own self-interest in not having their territory once again become a haven for al-Qaida.”

I think the American people are right.

The US military shouldn’t stay in Afghanistan.

That’s not dubious logic.

It’s smart logic.

I think Afghans hate the troops for occupying their country and killing their people.

I can understand that. I would, too.

I don’t believe Afghans hate all Americans.

Just some.

Like Max Boot and other Senior Fellows at right-wing think tanks.

Who want to continue the war, occupation, targeted assassinations, sanctions, night raids, kill-capture operations, and drone strikes.

But I’m no expert. Nor are the American people.

And NPR doesn’t want to hear our views.

We didn’t write two books about war like Boot did:

War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History, 1500 to Today. 

The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power.

Check out the search engine for stories at NPR’s website.

Search for the following: American Enterprise Institute, Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Center for a New American Security, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, Royal United Services Institute.

A ton of hits.

A ton of expert opinion and analysis of the world.

You’ll be amazed.

Or maybe you won’t.

NPR.

The voices and views of one side.

Biased.

I listen, but I won’t pay.

Helen Redmond is an independent journalist. She writes about health care and the international war on drugs. She can be reached at redmondmadrid@yahoo.com